Archive for the ‘2 Samuel 18’ Category

Israel’s True Power and Strength   Leave a comment

Above:  King John Hyrcanus I

Image in the Public Domain

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READING JUDITH

PART III

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Judith 4:1-6:2

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Holofernes represented an oppressive violent power and an ego-driven monarch.  The general had succeeded in his previous campaigns, even against people who had greeted his army with garlands, dancing, and the sound of timbrels (2:1-3:10).  The Israelites were in dire straits as he turned his attention toward them.

Yet the Israelites worshiped God.  They prayed to God.  And, as even Achior, the Ammonite leader acknowledged, the Israelites’ power and strength resided in God.  Yet Holofernes asked scornfully,

Who is God beside Nebuchadnezzar?

–Judith 6:2b, The New American Bible–Revised Edition (2011)

Achior found refuge with the Israelites, at least.

A refresher on the Kingdom of Ammon and on the Ammonites is in order.

  1. “Ammon” comes from Benammi, both the son and grandson of Lot (Genesis 19:30-38).  Lot’s daughters had gotten their father drunk then seduced him.  They gave birth to the founders of the Moabite and Ammonite peoples.
  2. The attitude toward the Ammonites in the Bible is mostly negative.
  3. The Kingdom of Ammon was east of the River Jordan and north of Moab.  
  4. The Kingdom of Ammon, a vassal state of Israel under Kings David and Solomon.  After Ammon reasserted itself, it became a vassal state of the Neo-Assyrian Empire then the Chaldean/Neo-Babylonian Empire.  A failed rebellion led to mass deportations of Ammonites and the colonization of their territory by Chaldeans.

Anyone who wants to read more about the Ammonites in the Bible may want to follow the following reading plan:

  1. Genesis 19;
  2. Numbers 21;
  3. Deuteronomy 2, 3, 23;
  4. Joshua 12, 13;
  5. Judges 3, 10, 11, 12;
  6. 1 Samuel 10, 11, 12, 14;
  7. 2 Samuel 8, 10, 11, 12, 17, 23;
  8. 1 Kings 11, 14;
  9. 2 Kings 23, 24;
  10. 1 Chronicles 11, 18, 19, 20;
  11. 2 Chronicles 12, 20, 24, 26, 27;
  12. Ezra 9;
  13. Nehemiah 2, 4, 13;
  14. Psalm 83;
  15. Isaiah 11;
  16. Jeremiah 9, 25, 27, 40, 41, 49;
  17. Ezekiel 21, 25;
  18. Daniel 11;
  19. Amos 1;
  20. Zephaniah 2;
  21. Judith 1, 5, 6, 7, 14;
  22. 1 Maccabees 5; and
  23. 2 Maccabees 4, 5.

Back to Achior…

A close reader of Achior’s report (5:6-21) may detect some details he got wrong.  Not all characters speak accurately in every matter.  One may expect an outsider to misunderstand some aspects of the Israelite story.

At the end of the Chapter 6, we see the conflict between the arrogance of enemies of God and the humility of Israelites.  We know that, in the story, the Israelites could turn only to God for deliverance.  Anyone familiar with the Hebrew prophets ought to know that this theme occurs in some of the prophetic books, too.

In the context contemporary to the composition of the Book of Judith, Jews had endured Hellenistic oppression under the Seleucid Empire.  Jews had won the independence of Judea.  John Hyrcanus I (reigned 135-104 B.C.E.; named in 1 Maccabees 13:53 and 16:1-23) had ordered the destruction of the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerazim and forced many people to convert to Judaism.  The persecuted had become persecutors.  This was certainly on the mind of the anonymous author of the Book of Judith.

May we, collectively and individually, do to others as we want them to do to us, not necessarily as they or others have done to us.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE TENTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF WALTER CISZEK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIERST AND POLITICAL PRISONER

THE FEAST OF SAINTS AMATUS OF LUXEUIL AND ROMARIC OF LUXEUIL, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONKS AND ABBOTS

THE FEAST OF ERIK CHRISTIAN HOFF, NORWEGIAN LUTHERAN COMPOSER AND ORGANIST

THE FEAST OF JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, U.S. QUAKER ABOLITIONIST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARIN SHKURTI, ALBANIAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1969

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The Death and Legacy of King David   Leave a comment

Above:  David and Solomon with the Madonna and Baby Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART LIII

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2 Samuel 23:1-7

1 Kings 2:1-12

1 Chronicles 29:26-30

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 47:2-11

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In all his activities he gave thanks

to the Holy One Most High in words of glory;

he put all his heart into his songs

out of love for his Creator.

–Ecclesiasticus 47:8, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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After reigning for about forty years and six months, David died.  His record was mixed–more mixed than some Biblical authors admitted.  Other Biblical sources, however, were honest about David’s moral failings as a man and a monarch.

David’s final advice to Solomon in 1 Kings 2 combines piety with orders for executions.  One reads of plans to punish (by killing) Joab and Shimei, both of whom David had spared in 2 Samuel–Shimei in Chapters 16 and 19, and Joab in Chapters 2, 18, 19, and 20.  The Corleone family–er, Davidic Dynasty–was about to settle accounts.

To repeat myself from a previous post, I do not like David.  I even have strong sympathies for Saul.  I perceive unduly negative press regarding the first King of Israel.  I perceive a pro-Davidic filter in accounts of Saul.  I conclude that Saul was not as bad as we are supposed to think, and that David was much worse than we are supposed to think, according to the texts.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 15, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT TERESA OF AVILA, SPANISH ROMAN CATHOLIC NUN, MYSTIC, AND REFORMER

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Another Revolt in Israel   Leave a comment

Above:  Joab Slays Amasa

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XLVII

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2 Samuel 20:1-26

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Repay them according to their deeds,

and according to the wickedness of their actions.

–Psalm 28:4, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Chronology is not always the organizing principle for material in 2 Samuel.  2 Samuel 20, for example, leads into 1 Kings 1.  2 Samuel 21-24 constitute an appendix.  I, trained as a historian, think about the arrangement of material.  Chronology is not always the best organizing material.  One can often make a case for moving chronologically within one theme at a time.  Appendices are also legitimate.

Joab!  Joab slew Abner (2 Samuel 3:27).  Joab ordered the death of Absalom, against David’s commands (2 Samuel 18).  Then David demoted Abner and promoted Amasa (2 Samuel 19).  (Aside:  I would have fired Joab.)  Next, some time later, Joab slew Amasa (2 Samuel 20:10) and became the commander again.  (Aside:  Why did David keep Joab around so long?)  Joab also threatened the town of Abel of Beth-maacah and accepted an offer to save the population in exchange for the head of Sheba son of Bichri, the most recent rebel leader.  David, dying, advised Solomon to order the execution of Joab (1 Kings 2:5-6).  Solomon did (1 Kings 2:28f).

How are we supposed to evaluate Joab?  Was he an overzealous patriot who occasionally violated David’s orders?  Perhaps.  Maybe David should not have permitted Joab to get away with such actions.  Or maybe Joab was correct vis-á-vis Sheba.  If had David had consented to the beheading of Shimei in 2 Samuel 16:9, the rebellion of Chapter 20 would never have occurred, according to a note in The Jewish Study Bible.  If we agree with that note, the dying David was correct to order the execution of Shimei (1 Kings 2:8-9), which Solomon made happen several years later (1 Kings 2:39-46).  Or maybe one agrees with me and disagrees with that note in The Jewish Study Bible.

Nobody is right or wrong all of the time.  One is, however, either right more often that one is wrong or wrong more often than one is right.  Even a broken clock is right twice a day, to quote a cliché.  

So, was Joab right more often than he was wrong?  Or was he wrong more often than he was right?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 14, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CALLIXTUS I, ANTERUS, AND PONTIAN, BISHOPS OF ROME; AND SAINT HIPPOLYTUS, ANTIPOPE

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROMAN LYSKO, UKRAINIAN GREEK CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1949

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL ISAAC JOSEPH SCHERESCHEWSKY, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF SHANGHAI, AND BIBLICAL TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF THOMAS HANSEN KINGO, DANISH LUTHERAN BISHOP, HYMN WRITER, AND “POET OF EASTERTIDE”

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David’s Attempts to Restore Unity   Leave a comment

Above:  King David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XLVI

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2 Samuel 19:1-43 (Protestant)/19:2-44 (Jewish and Roman Catholic), or, as the Eastern Orthodox call the text, 2 Kingdoms 19:2-44

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Turn to me and have pity on me,

for I am left alone and in misery.

The sorrows of my heart have increased;

bring me out of my troubles.

Look upon my adversity and misery

and forgive me all my sin.

–Psalm 25:15-17, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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David was victorious and relatively magnanimous following the events of 2 Samuel 15-18 (the rebellion of Absalom).  The King, for example, demoted Joab, who had committed insubordination, caused the death of Absalom, and behaved insensitively toward the grieving David.  But David let Joab live.  David promoted Amasa to take Joab’s place.  The King even rejected another suggestion to have Shimei (who had cursed him 2 Samuel 16) executed.  Unfortunately, David changed his mind years later (1 Kings 1:8-9) and Solomon ordered the death of Shimei (1 Kings 2:36-46).

Unity remained elusive in the immediate wake of the rebellion of Absalom, however.  There was no way David could unfry that egg.

2 Samuel 19 presents David favorably.  He stands in contrast to the lying, insensitive Joab and the pitiful yet loyal Mephibosheth.  The narrative also presents David as a broken, humbled man not eager to shed more blood immediately after a bloody rebellion.

This was the first rebellion.  The second one followed in Chapter 20.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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The Final Battle and the Death of Absalom   Leave a comment

Above:  The Death of Absalom

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XLV

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2 Samuel 18:1-33 (Protestant)/18:1-19:1 (Jewish and Roman Catholic), or, as the Eastern Orthodox call the text, 2 Kingdoms 18:1-19:1

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LORD, how many adversaries I have!

how many there are who rise up against me!

How many there are who say of me,

“There is no help for him in his God.”

–Psalm 3:1-2, The Book of Common Prayer (1979)

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Ahimaaz was in a difficult political situation.  He was loyal to King David, so the news of the defeat and death of Absalom seemed to be positive.  On the other hand, David (a terrible father, who had driven his son to rebellion) had, unbeknownst to Ahimaaz, given orders to the commanders (including Joab) to deal gently with Absalom.  Joab had violated that order.  David wanted to end the rebellion, of course, but he did not want Absalom to die either.  On that day, many people died because of David and Absalom.

David wore two hats, so to speak.  He was both a monarch and a father.  David seemed to be the king and not a father when dealing with Absalom (especially in 2 Samuel 14:33) most of the time.  If he had been Absalom’s father (as opposed to the emotionally distant king) more often, the rebellion may never have occurred.  Yet there was David, in father mode, in the designated portion of scripture for this post.

The line separating the personal from the political frequently does not exist for powerful people.  Life does not always permit neat categories.  On the other hand, the separation of the personal from the political can be a virtue.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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Posted October 3, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 2 Kings 14, 2 Samuel 18, 2 Samuel 19, Psalm 3

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Hushai Frustrates the Plan of Ahithophel, with David in Transjordan   Leave a comment

Above:  Absalom Between Ahithophel and Hushai

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XLIV

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2 Samuel 17:1-29

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In those days, the advice which Ahithophel gave was accepted like an oracle sought from God; that is how all the advice of Ahithophel was esteemed both by David and Absalom.

–2 Samuel 16:23, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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Back in 2 Samuel 15, Ahithophel, a royal counselor, switched alliances and sided with Absalom.  Also, David planted Hushai in Absalom’s court, to nullify Ahithophel’s advice and to participate in a spy network.  Ahithophel’s advice that Absalom have public intercourse with David’s concubines prevailed in 2 Samuel 16.  Nevertheless, Hushai’s advice overrode that of Ahithophel in 2 Samuel 17, thereby buying time for David.  The tide having turned in David’s favor, Ahithophel feared (correctly) that David would execute him for treason.  So the counselor committed suicide.  Absalom’s rebellion was about to fail.

The text makes the theological agenda of the narrative plain.

The LORD had decreed that Ahithophel’s sound advice be nullified, in order that the LORD might bring ruin upon Absalom.

–2 Samuel 17:14, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

David had prayed in 2 Samuel 15.  God answered that prayer in 2 Samuel 17 and 18.

Regardless of who holds power or who seeks it, God is in control.  Appearances may deceive, but God is in control.

I admit to struggling with accepting that God is in control.  I affirm that teaching in good moments.  Yet when current events depress me, I have serious doubts.  I am of two minds regarding this matter.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE KENNEDY ALLEN BELL, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CHICHESTER

THE FEAST OF ALBERTO RAMENTO, PRIME BISHOP OF THE PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENT CHURCH

THE FEAST OF SAINT GERARD OF BROGNE, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF JOHN RALEIGH MOTT, U.S. METHODIST LAY EVANGELIST, AND ECUMENICAL PIONEER

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Posted October 3, 2020 by neatnik2009 in 2 Samuel 15, 2 Samuel 16, 2 Samuel 17, 2 Samuel 18

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The Revolt of Absalom Begins   Leave a comment

Above:  Absalom Conspires Against David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XLII

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2 Samuel 15:1-37

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For [the wicked] cannot sleep unless they have done wrong;

they are robbed of sleep unless they have made someone stumble.

For they eat the bread of wickedness

and drink the wine of violence.

Proverbs 4:17-18, Revised Standard Version (1952)

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The framing of the story of King David in 2 Samuel, told via hindsight, pivots in Chapters 11 and 12.  After the murder of Uriah the Hittite and the seduction of Bathsheba, the narrative teaches us, David’s figurative chickens came home to roost.  One should, therefore, read the stories of Absalom in the context of 2 Samuel 12:9-12.

David was oblivious then shrewd in 2 Samuel 15.  He missed the signs of Absalom acting like a monarch and starting a rebellion until the time to prevent that insurrection had passed.  Yet David established a network of spies in Jerusalem after having fled the city.

David reaped what what he sowed.  He reaped what he sowed beyond the call back to Bathsheba and Uriah.  David also reaped what he sowed by having a terrible relationship with Absalom.  It was a two-way relationship, of course.  David did little or nothing to have a positive relationship with Absalom, even after pretending to reconcile with him.  If David had acted shrewdly vis-à-vis Absalom, the monarch would have kept at least as close an eye on him as he did on Mephibosheth.

Ironically, Ittai the Gittite, a foreigner, was loyal to David when Absalom and many Israelites were not.  Ittai remained loyal to David throughout the rebellion (see Chapter 18).

On a technical note, the proper passage of time in verse 7 is four years, not forty years.  TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985) has “forty,” but The New American Bible (1991) has “four.”  This sets the beginning of Absalom’s rebellion four years after the faux reconciliation at the end of Chapter 14, six years after Absalom’s return from exile, nine years after the murder of Amnon, and eleven years after the rape of Tamar (Chapter 13).  The narrative presents Absalom as a passionate, troubled man who had been stewing in the juices of resentment for years.  One may guess how long Absalom had resented David prior to Amnon’s rape of Tamar.  The narrative presets David and Absalom as being emotionally distant from each other.

One may recall a saying:  Before a man can command others well, he must command himself.  One may reasonably question the fitness of David and Absalom to command, based on that standard.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF RALPH W. SOCKMAN, U.S. UNITED METHODIST MINISTER

THE FEAST OF CARL DOVING, NORWEGIAN-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF JAMES ALLEN, ENGLISH INGHAMITE THEN GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER; AND HIS GREAT NEPHEW, OSWALD ALLEN, ENGLISH GLASITE/SANDEMANIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF PETRUS HERBERT, GERMAN MORAVIAN BISHOP AND HYMNODIST

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King David: Wars and Administration   4 comments

Above:  King David

Image in the Public Domain

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READING 1-2 SAMUEL, 1 KINGS, 2 KINGS 1-21, 1 CHRONICLES, AND 2 CHRONICLES 1-33

PART XXXV

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2 Samuel 8:1-18

1 Chronicles 18:1-17

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The LORD gave David victory wherever he went.

–2 Samuel 8:14b, TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985)

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That sentence is a refrain in 2 Samuel 8.  Both versions of the material describe the royal supremacy and military dominance of King David.  The context tells us of the subjugation of the Philistines, previously pushed back into their territory in 2 Samuel 5:17-25.  Acts of cruelty (such as those to Moabites and to horses) should disturb readers.  (I have tried to be a pacifist, and cruelty to animals has always offended me.)

David, once a vassal, had vassals.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

PROPER 17:  THE THIRTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST, YEAR A

THE FEAST OF SAINT JEANNE JUGAN, FOUNDRESS OF THE LITTLE SISTERS OF THE POOR

THE FEAST OF JOHN LEARY, U.S. ROMAN CATHOLIC SOCIAL ACTIVIST AND ADVOCATE FOR THE POOR AND THE MARGINALIZED

THE FEAST OF KARL OTTO EBERHARDT, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST, MUSIC, EDUCATOR, AND COMPOSER

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Honor and Prestige   1 comment

Above:  Herod Antipas

Image in the Public Domain

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Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning:

Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them,

that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of life,

which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ,  who lives and reigns

with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The Book of Common Prayer (1979), page 236

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Exodus 14:5-31 or 2 Samuel 18:5-33

Exodus 15:1-21

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Mark 6:14-29

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Honor and prestige are of limited value.  When we derive honor from the opinions of others, it does not reflect our character.  Furthermore, human prestige does not impress God.

Herod Antipas had honor and prestige, but he was far from noble, in the sordid tale in Mark 6 reveals.  He had incarcerated St. John the Baptist for publicly objecting to the client ruler’s marriage to his half-niece and former sister-in-law, Herodias.  Salome, the daughter of Herodias, was, therefore, his grand half-niece and his step-daughter.  In a rash moment, he chose to save face rather than spare the life of St. John the Baptist, a noble man, in the highest since of “noble.”

Honor and prestige underlie the reading from 2 Corinthians 8.  We are to follow the example of Jesus the Christ, who exemplified humility yet not timidity.  We are supposed to trust in God, not wealth, and to walk humbly before God.

Absalom, son of David, had honor and prestige, but not nobility of character.  David’s knowledge that his sin had brought about the rebellion of Absalom then the death of that errant son must have added much guilt to the monarch’s grief.

Slaves had no honor and prestige, but Hebrew slaves in Egypt had divine favor.  Unfortunately, they began to grumble before they left Egypt.  This did not bode well for the future.

God is faithful to us.  Divine favor–grace–is superior to human honor and prestige.  Will we try to be faithful to God?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 23, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT BRIDGET OF SWEDEN, FOUNDRESS OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HIGH SAVIOR; AND HER DAUGHTER, SAINT CATHERINE OF SWEDEN, SUPERIOR OF THE ORDER OF THE MOST HIGH SAVIOR

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE TEAGUE CASE, PROFESSOR OF RELIGIOUS EDUCATION

THE FEAST OF SAINTS PHILIP EVANS AND JOHN LLOYD, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIESTS AND MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF THEODOR LILEY CLEMENS, ENGLISH MORAVIAN MINISTER, MISSIONARY, AND COMPOSER

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2019/07/23/devotion-for-proper-13-year-b-humes/

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The Parental Love of God   1 comment

Death of Absalom

Above:  The Death of Absalom

Image in the Public Domain

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The Collect:

O God, throughout the ages you judge your people with mercy,

and you inspire us to speak your truth.

By your Spirit, anoint us for lives of faith and service,

and bring all people into your forgiveness,

through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  Amen.

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 39

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The Assigned Readings:

2 Samuel 13:23-39 (Thursday)

2 Samuel 15:1-12 (Friday)

2 Samuel 18:28-19:8 (Saturday)

Psalm 32 (All Days)

James 4:1-7 (Thursday)

Romans 11:1-10 (Friday)

Luke 5:17-26 (Saturday)

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Countless troubles are in store for the wicked,

but the one who trusts in Yahweh is enfolded in his faithful love.

–Psalm 32:10, The New Jerusalem Bible (1985)

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Absalom rejected his father, King David, who mourned for him after he died.  According to 2 Samuel, David brought the troubled life of his family upon himself via the incidents involving Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite (2 Samuel 11 and 12).  Absalom also brought his death upon himself by means of his ambition, pride, and variety.  Nevertheless, the grief David felt upon losing another son was real.

People rejected God in the readings from the New Testament.  Rejecting Jesus–especially accusing him of committing blasphemy–was–and remains–a bad idea.  Those negative figures in the story from Luke 5 did not think of themselves as bete noires; they could not fit Jesus into their orthodoxy.  There were also questions regarding our Lord and Savior’s credentials, so the issue of pride came into play.  Attachment to tradition in such a way as to make no room for Jesus was also a relevant factor.

But, as the Letter of James reminds us, God opposes the proud and bestows grace upon the humble:

Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you men of double mind.  Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection.  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

–James 4:8-10, Revised Standard Version–Second Edition (1971)

I propose that the grief of God over errant human beings is somewhat like that of David over Absalom.  God loves us selflessly and unconditionally.  Such love warrants reciprocation, but reality is frequently otherwise.  Consequences of that rejection of grace unfold as they will.  Yet abuses and misuses of free will, a gift of God, cannot override divine love, which permits us to decide how to respond to it.  Yes, Hell is real, but no, God sends nobody there.  Those in Hell sent themselves there.

May we not grieve God, who is our Father and our Mother, who, like the mother eagle in Deuteronomy, teaches us to fly and, like Jesus lamenting over Jerusalem, yearns to shelter us under henly wings.  May we succeed in rejoicing God’s proverbial heart, by grace and free will.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 4, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF PAUL CUFFEE, U.S. PRESBYTERIAN MISSIONARY TO THE SHINNECOCK NATION

THE FEAST OF SAINT CASIMIR OF POLAND, PRINCE

THE FEAST OF EMANUEL CRONENWETT, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER, HYMN WRITER, AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINTS MARINUS OF CAESAREA, ROMAN SOLDIER AND CHRISTIAN MARTYR, AND ASTERIUS, ROMAN SENATOR AND CHRISTIAN MARTYR

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Adapted from this post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/devotion-for-thursday-friday-and-saturday-before-proper-6-year-c-elca-daily-lectionary/

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